Hooray! Downton Abbey is back! As Americans relish the continuing story of the upstairs and downstairs lives of this grand estate in season 4, a current display of books and films at EPL features stories from the servants’ points of view. In the wonderful universe of coincidence, NPR this weekend re-ran Dave Davies’ Fresh Air interview with Lucy Lethbridge, author of Servants: A Downstairs History of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern times.
We Americans are fascinated by the parallel lives of those upstairs and those below, but we lack a deep cultural sense of the history and impact on lifestyles and attitudes. Lethbridge uses diaries, letters, and memoirs as well as household records to help us grasp the import of a life in service and the complex relationship between servants and masters. Listen to the interview and visit the EPL website for earlier Downton Abbey seasons.